Building OBS Studio

If you want to develop for OBS, please visit our Discord and get to know the devs or have questions answered!

Also, if there is something in this guide you want to change/improve on, it is recommended that you talk about it with the devs in Discord or IRC first.

Please note that any install directions/packages for Linux/FreeBSD distributions listed as Unofficial means that they are community provided, and any support for those packages should be directed at the appropriate distro/package maintainers.

OBS build dependencies

Dependency Available Pre-Built (macOS and Windows)
FFmpeg YES
x264 YES
cURL YES (required on Windows only)
Chromium Embedded Framework YES

We suggest having a current version of Git and CMake installed on the build system. macOS and Linux systems also require the Ninja build system to be installed, CCache can be installed to speed up consecutive builds as well and is supported by the build system.

The repository has build scripts for Windows, macOS and Linux available (written for Powershell and Bash respectively) that can set up build tools and dependencies for the developer as well as building and packaging OBS. Check out the OS-dependent chapters below for more detail on available functionality.


OBS uses CMake to create build environments for different platforms and IDEs. As a modular project, each module can introduce its own build options and requirements, which are gathered and managed by CMake when invoking it.

While these build options are detected and set automatically by CMake, they can also be changed after build configuration has finished or can be changed via overrides at configuration time.

This article explains some intricacies of OBS' CMake build system structure and the available options to change its behavior.

OBS CMake Build System

OBS requires at least CMake v3.16 or newer due to many quality-of-life changes introduced in this version. On Windows and macOS the most current CMake version (as of writing v3.22) is preferred, even if the current feature level is capped to v3.21.

Due to OBS' modular structure, some build configuration settings are available globally, while others are introduced by modules. They are listed here in order of appearance (as defined by each CMakeLists.txt file, which is processed procedurally by CMake).

Global Options

Variable Description Default OS
CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE Sets the build configuration (available values are Debug, RelWithDebInfo, Release and MinSizeRel) RelWithDebInfo All
CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX Sets either an absolute installation path or path relative to the build directory rundir inside build directory (install on macOS) All
CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH Additional search path for dependencies, use semicolons to seperate multiple paths None All
CMAKE_OSX_ARCHITECTURES Specify architecture(s) to build binaries for (available values are x86_64 and arm64) x86_64 macOS
CMAKE_OSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET Minimum macOS versions to deploy binaries for 10.13 for x86_64, 11.0 for arm64 macOS
CEF_ROOT_DIR Specify root directory of pre-built Chromium Embedded Framework (required for Browser source plugin) None All
VLC_PATH Specify directory of downloaded VLC source files (required for VST source plugin) None macOS and Windows

OBS Build Options

Variable Description Default OS
ENABLE_UI Enable building with UI (main OBS application) ON All
ENABLE_SCRIPTING Enable scripting functionality (Lua and/or Python) ON All
BUILD_QT Specify Qt build version to use (minimum: 5) 5 All
USE_LIBCXX Use libc++ instead of libstdc++ ON macOS
LINUX_PORTABLE Use a portable directory structure to run OBS OFF Linux
USE_XDG Utilize XDG base directory specification ON Linux
OBS_VERSION_OVERRIDE Specify OBS version for configured build Most recent Git tag All
OBS_BUILD_NUMBER Continuous build number for configured build Automatically incremented on local builds All
OBS_BUNDLE_CODESIGN_IDENTITY Identity to use for code signing when building OBS application bundle - macOS
OBS_CODESIGN_ENTITLEMENTS Entitlements to use for code signing Shipped entitlements file macOS
OBS_CODESIGN_LINKER Enable automatic linker codesigning ON on macOS 11.0+, OFF otherwise macOS
OBS_MULTIARCH_SUFFIX Specific architecture suffix to use (available values are 32 or 64) None Linux

OBS Feature Options

Variable Description Default OS
ENABLE_PLUGINS Enable building with plugins ON All
ENABLE_SPARKLE_UPDATER Enable building with Sparkle updater framework OFF macOS
ENABLE_WAYLAND Enable support for Wayland compositor ON Linux
ENABLE_PIPEWIRE Enable support for Pipewire graphics processing engine ON Linux

OBS Module Options

Variable Description Default OS
ENABLE_AJA Enable building with AJA NTV2 support ON All
ENABLE_COREAUDIO_ENCODER Enable support for CoreAudio encoder ON Windows (cannot be disabled on macOS)
ENABLE_DECKLINK Enable building with Decklink support ON All
ENABLE_ALSA Enable building with Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) support ON Linux
ENABLE_JACK Enable support for JACK audio server OFF Linux
ENABLE_PULSEAUDIO Enable Pulse Aduio support ON Linux
ENABLE_V4L2 Enable Video4Linux v2 support ON Linux
ENABLE_VIRTUALCAM Enable building with Virtual Camera modules ON Windows and macOS
VIRTUALCAM_GUID Specify global unique identifier (GUID) for Virtual Camera Plugin None Windows
ENABLE_BROWSER_SOURCE Enable buidling Browser Source plugin ON All
ENABLE_BROWSER_LEGACY Enable building Browser Source plugin with legacy CEF version 3770 OFF Windows
ENABLE_BROWSER_SHARED_TEXTURE Enable building Browser Source plugin with shared texture support ON Windows and macOS
ENABLE_BROWSER_QT_LOOP Enable building Browser source plugin with Qt message loop ON macOS
ENABLE_BROWSER_PANELS Enable building Browser source plugin with support for browser panels ON All
ENABLE_FFMPEG_LOGGING Enable more verbose logging for FFmpeg-based operations OFF All
ENABLE_SPEEXDSP Enable noise suppression using SpeexDSP ON All
ENABLE_RNNOISE Enable noise suppression using RNNoise ON All
ENABLE_NVAFX Enable noise supporession using NVidia Audio Effects SDK ON Windows
ENABLE_LIBFDK Enable building support for Fraunhofer AAC codec OFF All
ENABLE_RTMPS Enable support for TLS-based RTMP connections AUTO All
ENABLE_VST Enable VST plugin support ON All
ENABLE_VST_BUNDLED_HEADERS Enable building VST plugin with bundled headers ON All
ENABLE_OSS Enable building with Open Sound System support ON Linux
ENABLE_SERVICE_UPDATES Enable automatic streaming service updates OFF All
ENABLE_SNDIO Enable sndio framework support OFF Linux
ENABLE_FREETYPE Enable support for FreeType 2 based text rendering ON macOS and Linux
ENABLE_VLC Enable support for VLC-based sources ON All
ENABLE_D3D12_HOOK Enable capture hook for Direct3D 12-based games OFF Windows
ENABLE_IVCAM Enable support for Realsense camera OFF Windows

Windows-Specific Options

For improved support with legacy build setups, OBS will detect and "upgrade" the following older environment variables and cache variables:

Variable Description Example Replacement
DepsPath Set path to downloaded prebuilt dependencies C:\Dev\dependencies2019\win64 CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH
DepsPath32 Set path to downloaded prebuilt 32-bit dependencies C:\Dev\dependencies2019\win32 CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH
DepsPath64 Set path to downloaded prebuilt 64-bit dependencies C:\Dev\dependencies2019\win64 CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH
QTDIR Set path to Qt installation C:\Dev\Qt_5.15.2\msvc2019_64 CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH
QTDIR32 Set path to 32-bit Qt installation C:\Dev\Qt_5.15.2\msvc2019 CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH
QTDIR64 Set path to 64-bit Qt installation C:\Dev\Qt_5.15.2\msvc2019_64 CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH
VlcPath Set path to VLC installation C:\Dev\vlc-3.0.0-git VLC_Path

The following legacy option switches are supported for a grace period as well and are automatically upgraded as follows:

Variable Upgrade

General CMake guidance

All these commands implicitly expect to be run from within the OBS source code directory checked out via git including all submodules (check the [Installing and Building]() page for more details):

Create Build Configuration

Just running cmake triggers an "in-source" build (meaning: build artifacts are placed with the source code directory structure). Due to OBS' modular structure this build variant is not allowed, instead an "out-of-source" build needs to be configured.

To create a build configuration in a desired subdirectory run cmake -S . -B. This will configure OBS with most modules available to the host operating system enabled.

To change the CMake generator (and the build tool used to compile the project) pass a compatible generator name via the -G switch. Supported generators by CMake and OBS are:

  • Unix Makefiles
  • Ninja
  • Xcode
  • Visual Studio 17 2022
  • Visual Studio 16 2019

Other generators are supported by CMake but have neither been tested nor are officially supported by the OBS team.

Change Configuration Options

To change a configuration option, supported variables can be passed via the -D switch. E.g. to disable building with the browser source plugin, pass -DENABLE_BROWSER_SOURCE=OFF. While CMake supports several values as binary switches, within OBS ON or OFF are used.

These changes are additive, as CMake stores these options as "cache variables" in a file called CMakeCache.txt in the specified build directory and reads from this file when cmake is run again. As such cache options can either be changed in this file directly, or overwritten by specifying new values for them via the -D switch (see above).

CMake GUIs

CMake build configurations can also be managed using graphical user interfaces: On Windows cmake-gui is installed with the CMake package available for the platform and allows selection of source and build directories (-S and -B switches respectively) as well as direct manipulation of all cache variables. Detailed instructions for this GUI are available in the [Installation and Building]() article.

On POSIX-based systems a ncurses-based user interface is available via the ccmake command which allows editing of cache variables. Note that due to CMake's internal processes, a configuration step (via the c shortcut) needs to be repeated until no new cache variables are created by it. Only then will the generation step (g shortcut) be made available.

Apply Changes

Whether changes to CMake script files themselves or to cache variables, CMake needs to be run again to "pick up" on these changes and apply them (as build system files are generated according to these changes). When using the GUI a repeat run of configuration and generation steps should be enough to pick up those changes; when using the command line a repeat invocation of cmake -S . -B will do the same.

Modern CMake

OBS uses "Modern CMake" which differentiates from patterns and practices used by CMake before version 2.8/3 - for the full details please refer to An Introduction To Modern CMake.

Here are some general rules of thumb (lifted from the article mentioned above):

CMake Antipatterns

  • Do not use global functions: This includes link_directories, include_libraries, and similar.
  • Don't add unneeded PUBLIC requirements: You should avoid forcing something on users that is not required (-Wall). Make these PRIVATE instead.
  • Don't GLOB files: Make or another tool will not know if you add files without rerunning CMake. Note that CMake 3.12 adds a CONFIGURE_DEPENDS flag that makes this far better if you need to use it.
  • Do not link to built files directly: Always link to targets if available.
  • Never skip PUBLIC/PRIVATE when linking: This causes all future linking to be keyword-less.

CMake Patterns

  • Treat CMake as code: It is code. It should be as clean and readable as all other code.
  • Think in targets: Your targets should represent concepts. Make an (IMPORTED) INTERFACE target for anything that should stay together and link to that.
  • Export your interface: You should be able to run from build or install.
  • Write a Config.cmake file: This is what a library author should do to support clients.
  • Make ALIAS targets to keep usage consistent: Using add_subdirectory and find_package should provide the same targets and namespaces.
  • Combine common functionality into clearly documented functions or macros: Functions are better usually.
  • Use lowercase function names: CMake functions and macros can be called lower or upper case. Always use lower case. Upper case is for variables.
  • Use cmake_policy and/or range of versions: Policies change for a reason. Only piecemeal set OLD policies if you have to.


  • Using (internal) finder variables to add libraries and their include directories:

      target_link_libraries(my_target PRIVATE My_Library::My_Library)

    NOTE: If the package does not create an imported library target (My_Library::My_Library), an issue should be filed with the respective library maintainer(s) to drop the outdated FindXYZ.cmake pattern and update to CMake's export function to create a CMake package. In the interim the finder module can be patched to create namespaced imported targets (see some examples in OBS' CMake/Modules directory.

  • Gathering source files in variables and adding them at the bottom of the script:

      add_library(my_target SHARED ${mytarget_SOURCES} ${mytarget_HEADERS)
      add_library(my_target SHARED)
  • Polluting the build environment with local compilation requirements

      set(CMAKE_CXX_STANDARD 17)
      add_compile_options(-Wextra -Wvla -Wno-unused-function -Wno-missing-field-initializers -fno-strict-aliasing)
      target_compile_features(my_target PRIVATE cxx_std_17)
      target_compile_options(my_target PRIVATE -Wextra PUBLIC -fno-strict-aliasing)
      target_link_options(my_target PRIVATE LINKER:-z,defs)

    NOTE: The correct use of PRIVATE and PUBLIC is important here: PRIVATE target properties only apply to the target itself, while PUBLIC options are also inherited by targets linking to this target. Also note the LINKER: prefix for the link options - this allows CMake to use the compiler specific linker flags (e.g -Xlinker -z -Xlinker defs for Clang and -Wl,-z,defs for GNU GCC).

Think In Targets

This cannot be stressed enough: In Modern CMake everything revolves around targets, which allows CMake to resolve dependencies and relationships using target properties and the information contained within. E.g. when linking target_a with target_b (via target_link_libraries()) CMake will look up the INTERFACE_INCLUDE_DIRECTORIES property on target_b to yield the directory containing library headers, as well as INTERFACE_LINK_LIBRARIES which will contain the actual library files in the file system. Required compile options and defines are also read from INTERFACE_COMPILE_OPTIONS and INTERFACE_COMPILE_DEFINITIONS respectively and added to target_a's compile options automatically.

Using namespaces (My_Library::My_Library) when specifying targets for linking has the added benefit of ensuring a target reference (instead of a file reference), as colons are invalid for file names in many file systems.